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Murano glass factories

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From: Murano, the Glass Island

Murano glass furnace

ABOVE: V.I.A.'s glass furnace on Murano. INSET BELOW: A factory showroom, the V.I.A. factory entrance, and a barge filled with waste glass.

Public factory visits

Murano glass showroomsThe most interesting glass factories and ateliers on Murano aren't open to visitors, for two reasons:

  • They're in the business of making glass, not entertaining tourists;

  • Master glass artisans have spent years refining their proprietary techniques and don't want competitors taking notes.

Still, as you walk around Murano, you're likely to find mass-market fornaci or furnaces that welcome tourists. The V.I.A. factory is a good example:

glass factory tour signFrom the Colonna waterbus stop, turn left as you exit the boat platform and walk along the water until you reach a "Fornace Glass" sign on a door below the Calle S. Cipriano street sign, pass beneath the entrance sign, follow the sidewalk, and enter the building to view a glassmaking demonstration for a small fee that can be credited against a purcase from the factory's shop.

The demonstration takes less than 10 minutes, but it's interesting if you haven't seen a glass furnace.

Tips for visiting:

  • Look for open factories on weekday mornings. Don't count on much action during the lunch hour (which can run from noon or 1 p.m. until mid-afternoon).

  • In Venice, you're likely to be approached by representatives of touristy factory showrooms that offer free boat trips to Murano. If you accept, be prepared for a high-pressure sales pitch. (We'd recommend getting to Murano by public transportation, which is quick, easy, and pressure-free.)

  • Murano waste glass for recyclingIf you're a serious glass collector or buyer, you may be able to visit some of the more artistic fornaci by appointment. we'd suggest making arrangements through a gallery, dealer, or decorator who has contacts in Murano.

  • To phone or correspond with workshops directly, buy Michela and Nicoló Scibilia's Comprehensive Guide to the Island of Murano (see page 9 of this article) and use the listings in its "Production" chapter as a starting point for your planning.

  • Glass factories are normally closed for maintenance during August, though a few tourist-oriented demonstration furnaces may stay open. (Check with the Venice tourist office during your visit.)

  • Due to a massive spike in the cost of natural gas, many of the island's furnaces have been shut down recently, and it's unclear how soon--if ever--all of the the dormant fornaci will be fired up again. This could make it harder to find glass factories that are offering public demonstrations.

Next page: Sightseeing on Murano

In this Murano travel guide:
Murano (introduction)
Glass museums
Glass factories
Sightseeing on Murano
Hotels, B&Bs, apts
Restaurants & cafés
Tourist information
Glass repair & mosaic courses
More Murano photos

Also see:
Venice Islands Tour (by public transportation)